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Death Toll In Romania Fire Rises To 41, Ex-Mayor Arrested

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 7/11/2015 Mehreen Kasana
ATHENA IMAGE © Anadolu Agency via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

BUCHAREST, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Nine people died on Saturday from injuries sustained in a fire at a nightclub in Romania eight days ago, bringing the number of dead to 41 in a case which has sparked protests and led to the resignation of the government.

Two of the latest victims died in the Netherlands, where they had been transported for specialized treatment.

A little over 100 people are still in hospital and more than 40 of them are in serious or critical condition, Romania's interim prime minister, Sorin Cimpeanu, said.

The fire broke out late on Oct. 30 at a rock concert in the Colectiv nightclub in the capital Bucharest. Fireworks set insulation foam ablaze, triggering a stampede towards the single exit and trapping many of the roughly 400 people inside.

Tens of thousands of people subsequently took to the streets across Romania, angry at a public administration widely seen as corrupt, and the protests continued even after the cabinet resigned. 

On Saturday several thousand protesters - though less numerous than on previous days - rallied for a fifth consecutive day to chant "Corruption kills" and "We won't go home, the dead won't let us."

Consultations over a new Romanian prime minister will resume next week after initial talks with political and civil society leaders yielded no candidate, President Klaus Iohannis said. 

On Saturday, anti-corruption prosecutors said they had taken Cristian Popescu Piedone, mayor of the Bucharest district where Colectiv is located, into custody. He had resigned in the wake of the protests.

They said evidence had shown that Piedone granted a working permit for the club despite the fact it did not have authorisation from firefighters.

"Given that several ... events took place ... in broadly unsafe public conditions, the lives, health and physical integrity of the audience and staff were permanently put in danger," prosecutors said in a statement.

The club's three owners were taken into custody on Nov. 2. City hall clerks and the owners of the company that installed the fireworks were also being investigated.

The fire has prompted an outpouring of community support, with people donating blood and money and volunteers taking food and drinks to hospitals for medical staff and victims' families.

Outside the club, people continued to light candles and lay flowers in remembrance.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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